I liiivveee!!!!

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I have never identified with Mushu (from the Disney movie Mulan) more than right now. February is finally over and I have somehow managed to make all my deadlines and to retain (what was left of) my sanity.

Honestly, what was I thinking when I set myself a two month deadline to not just finish a masters module + 4500 word report, but also to hand in a draft of my entire PhD dissertation?! Since January 2nd my life has basically revolved around work and studying… Ok and sleeping, because that was sorely needed to. There was absolutely 0 room or time for a social life. Thankfully, I have lovely collegues where I work so had lots of conversation during our breaks, which definitely helped to keep me sane.

In a facebook post I wrote that I really hoped I would never have to do something this nuts again… Unfortunately for me, as this was only the draft of my dissertation, I am sure that I will have to make quite a few corrections. So give it a month or two and it will be the “return of the insane deadlines” *que Star Wars music*.

But yes, this was one of the reasons why this blog has been a bit dead recently. I’ve been insanely busy and there really just wasn’t much going on in my life… But this month all that is going to change!

Why? Because travel! And people! In the second week of March I will be off to Aberyswyth to attend a study school there. During the study school I will basically be attending lectures related to the postgraduate degree I am currently doing. To make the experience as authentic as possible I once more get to enjoy all that dormlive has to offer, such as shared toilets and showers with nowhere to to hang your dry clothes! How exciting! The thing I really do look forward to through is the three warm meals a day that I don’t have to cook myself… The last time I went in September the food was seriously good… and free (cause work’s paying!). That just makes everything better doesn’t it?

Almost immediately after that I will be travelling to Amsterdam for 6 days. It will be so nice to see my parents and some of my friends again. I’ve really missed them and I am only sorry I cannot see everyone in the small amount of time I have. It won’t be all play though! I will be spending at least 1,5 days of my vacation at the University with one of my supervisors as we go through the draft of my PhD to discuss the corrections I am going to have to make…. Work-a-holic? Who me? I don’t know what you are talking about.

But yes, look forward to a bit more activity here. Also if you would like me to blog about a particular aspect of my life in England (the food, the people, the towns) let me know in the comments and I will see what I can do 😉

This is Mar, signing off.

I’ve got this! I think…

Quite a few weeks have gone by since my last post… Time sure flies! About 1 week after publishing my “Eureka, I have so much energy post”, my energy levels crashed. Why? Because I was so rejoiced at all the extra energy I suddenly had that I just kinda of went overboard… a little… or well maybe a lot. ^__^” It of course also did not help that I had nightmares every night for about 1,5 weeks. I occasionally have such periods in which I am literally plagued by nightmares, and I have no idea why. The themes of the nightmare have nothing in common and I have not really had much to stress about lately… But whatever was casing them they have taken their leave and my energy levels are getting back to normal.

I have, however, definitely learned one lesson: even if I feel energetic I should still be on my guard.

Of course that does not mean that I have been sitting back and relaxing… or am going to do that for the upcoming weeks. ^__^” Quite frankly, this month is just completely insane.

On May 5th a really good friend came over from England for the weekend. His brother and his brother’s boyfriend, who currently live in America, also tagged along and we just had a really good time. We showed them around town, had dinner at our favorite Japanese restaurant, made them try all sorts of Dutch snacks, did a boat tour of the environment and I even cooked for them.

Although the friends’ brother had been to Amsterdam quite a number of times, he had never visited the more rural cities in Holland. He and his partner liked our little town so much that they will most likely be moving here :D. So that will definitely be a lot of fun.

Last Monday I went on a short holiday to a vacation park here in The Netherlands for four nights. The park located within a foresty area so it was very relaxing, though I wasn’t able to make any epic nature photographs. I did, however, make a rather beautiful one of the fantasy garden we visited. Although the garden was very small, you could pretty much walk everywhere. I did not expect it at first, but you can actually walk into the tower that you see in the picture below.

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De Fantasie Tuin (or Fantasy Garden in English)

I wasn’t able to fully kick back and relax during my holiday as I really did have to work on my research as well. Why you may ask? Didn’t I just write it was a holiday? Who works on a holiday?! Well keep reading and you will find the answer shortly.

So I returned yesterday and have about four days to catch my breath, since my fiancĂ©’s aunt is coming on Tuesday and will be staying with us for approximately 1,5 weeks. She lives with my fiancĂ©’s mother and her boyfriend, because she is mentally handicapped and cannot live on her own. However, they are going on a holiday, so we arranged for her to stay with us for the duration of the trip. We don’t have a very big home, but it’s a warm one and she’s more than welcome here :).

Apart from all this, I also have two major deadlines coming up. A couple of months ago I replied to a call for contributions for a book on Sympathy and Morality which is to be published with Routledge (one of the major academic publishers). I received an e-mail about 1,5 weeks ago that the project had been approved! …. And that I have until May 31st to complete a 7000 word chapter! One month to write an entire chapter…. Cause who needs sleep right?

Apart from that, I will also be going to a conference in Galway on June 8th for which I still need to write my paper. So… this is pretty much me right now:

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I love how everyone around me is convinced that I am totally going to nail this though. I told my parents and the lovely friend from England and they all reacted with:  “oh, that’s alright. You’ve got this”. So… I think I am going to make that my manta for the month. And just to make sure I don’t forget I might actually write it on little sticky notes and stick those on surfaces around the house.

So my goal for the upcoming month are:

  1. To manage my energy levels more carefully;
  2. To stay in control of my workload: thank the lord that I have taken up decorative planning!… Did I mention I have a new one? Just look at the pretty planner! ❀

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  1. To manage my stress levels and to not have a complete break-down somewhere along the line (ain’t got time for that!);
  2. … and to not die at the end of it all? That seems like a pretty good one

I hope you will forgive me the lack of blog posts, but as you have been able to read, I really have not had a lot of time to myself ^__^”. I will try to update you guys again when I can.

2017: goals and expectations

As promised, I will be entirely dedicating this blog post to my goals and resolutions for 2017. Just to keep everything nice and tidy, I have decided to divide this post up like the one in which I reflected on 2016.

Weight-loss

Well my first goal for this year is to loose the weight I gained during Christmas and New Years. I really decided to just let myself go, and deal with the aftermath once the holidays were over. And as today is January first I have immediately started to watch what I am eating even though my fiancé has really been tempting me with lots of yummy, not so healthy food haha.

Once I have accomplished this, I intend to maintain this weight for the rest of the year. Now, I know from previous attempts that this is going to be a bit of a challenge, but I have never been this determined to keep off weight before. So yes, I really, actually think that I have got this! 😀

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Exercise Continue reading

2016: what a ride

As promised, I too will dedicate a post to looking back on 2016. It really has been quite a year. I will be dividing this post into different sections, just to bring a bit of structure into this post. I will not be writing about my goals for 2017 in this post, as I plan to dedicate a separate blog post to this.

This is going to be quite a lenghty post as a lot has happened this year, so I suggest you get yourself a cup of tea, coffee or whatever other drink that helps you to relax, and sit yourself down in a comfortable chair ;).

Weight-loss

41102ce427d4f9c2345a2480e3e5f36eIn May this year I decided that it was high time that I jumped back on the weight-loss bandwagon. I had stopped watching what I was eating in December 2015 and had as a result gained about 3,5-4 of the kilo’s of what I had managed to loose in 2015. In 2015 I had started with a weight of 80 kilo’s (176 lbs) and had managed to bring it down to around 71 kg (156.5 lbs), thus loosing about 9 kilo’s (+/= 20 lbs). When I began my weight-loss journey again in 2016, I weighed about 74,4 kilo’s (164 lbs).

As those who have been following this blog for a while will know, I managed to loose the weight I had gained and more. Even though I did want to get to 68 kilo’s (+/- 150 lbs) I never actually thought this was a realistic goal… But I am proud to say that even during the crazy Christmas season I have managed to remain below that weight. For the past two months I have been hovering around the 67 kilo’s (+/- 148 lbs), which I am extremely satisfied with. I would like to get down to 66, but honestly as long as I stay around 67 I am quite happy.

As I have lost over 7 kilo’s (15,5 lbs), this also meant I went down 2 whole clothing sizes. By now I have donated, given away, sold or thrown away all of my old clothes as they were too big. And have begun to built an entirely new wardrobe. So there really is no turning back!

Project Confidence

project confidence

In June I started what I decided to call Project confidence. I was and still am quite an insecure person and realized that just loosing weight was not going to help me to gain confidence. Though it has definitely helped a lot!

One of my goals with this project was to gain back my “forever smile”. And I have definitely been smiling more. I am still working on worrying less about what people think of me, or rather, what I think people think of me, but I did not really expect to change that aspect of myself in just a few months. So yes, very much work in progress.

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor tap danceI did get to a point, however, where I felt comfortable to try something I had been wanting to do for years. In September I joined a dance school that I had never been to and began taking tap dancing classes. Now this was probably one of the best decisions that I have made all year. I immediately noticed at the end of the first lesson that I felt a bit more like my old self again. Until I was about 15 years old I used to go to musical class where we would have dancing lessons every week, and I absolutely loved it. I had the exact same feeling after tap dancing. For one hour I was able to forget my problems with fatigue and was just able to focus on dancing. Now mind you, I am not particularly good at tap dancing, but I really enjoy it a lot! I always look forward to it and it is a great way to exercise!

Over the past months I really notice that I have began to smile more and to feel a lot better in my own skin. And as I have said before: weight-loss does help with this. Thanks to the amount of weight I have lost, I now own a coat that I feel absolutely fantastic in! If ever there was a coat that gave confidence, this is definitely it. Several people have told me that this really is a Mar coat… and I could not agree with them more. I am almost inclined to buy a second one, I case this one wears out haha.

Fatigue

As my trusty readers will know I have been struggling with fatigue issues for a couple of years now. This year, I was finally admitted to the hospital so that they could run some tests. It turns out that I have chronic fatigue syndrome, for which I am currently being treated by a sleep psychologist. Since I have been going to this psychologist, I have noticed a definite improvement in my energy levels.

I am currently adhering to a strict sleep schedule, have stopped working on my dissertation for at least one day a week (which is usually on Saturdays) and have been focusing less on how tired I feel. As a result, I have been able to survive a completely crazy December that was absolutely crammed to the brim with deadlines. I would not have been able to do this half a year ago, so I am really grateful. I do, however, notice that perhaps I asked a bit too mAfbeeldingsresultaat voor sleepy animeuch of myself and that I do have to take a step back now. So yes, I do need to find a better balance… And remember that I am not wonder woman. However, sometimes life just gets crazy and all you can do is to go with the flow. Here’s to hoping I won’t have a repetition of December any time soon though!

Work

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This year has been absolutely amazing when it comes to work. I was able to obtain my Prince 2 Project Management foundation and practitioner certificates, got promoted to a Senior position, was able to manage a number of IT related projects with success  AND got a permanent contract! I mean just wow… After a year with this many highs, next year is going to be such a let down haha!

PhD and research

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor anime researchMy research as certainly kept me busy this year. In July I was asked to contribute three articles to a Companion to Victorian literature and have just sent them to the editor. I have also written a book review which is to be published in the Wilkie Collins Journal. Next to this I have been working steadily on my doctoral thesis, which is due to be finished September 2017… The thought of which gives me a near panic attack as there is so much left to do! But I will write more on this in my next blog on my goals for September 2017. So stay tuned.

And you my dear? How was your 2016? Regardless of what it was like, I wish you a marvelous, healthy and lovely 2017.

Week 10: July, the month that keeps on giving

3485297_1394970011324-57res_500_281I am not sure what I have done to deserve this, but July is the month that keeps on giving. I have some really exciting news to share with you this week, lovely readers! But more on that later!

As always I will first give you guys a little weight update. This morning I had another of those “is this thing working properly?” moments when I was standing on the scale. After only a small loss last week, I have lost a mindboggling 1,1 kilo’s (2,4 lbs) this week! So I am 68,7 now (151,45 lbs)! Only 0,7 kilo’s (1,5 lbs) to go and I will be at my goal weight! WHOOT!

I have no idea how this happened though. Although I have been getting most of my exercise in, I have had to stop my yoga practice for four days now, as it is simply too warm in the house. I am really sensitive to heat, so it is not possible for me to exercise when the room’s temperature is 26,5 degrees Celsius (around 80 degrees Fahrenheit). Moreover, I even had a cheat day this Friday as it was extremely warm and I was simply too tired to even try and make an attempt at cooking. But hey, the body works in mysterious ways so I am definitely not going to complain!

I am, however, hoping it is going to cool down a bit soon, so I can start doing yoga again. I never thought I’d write this, but it is actually quite frustrating not being able to do it. Yes, readers; I miss yoga! O.o I miss my additional physical exercise (did hell just freeze over?!). So fingers crossed for cooler weather!

Now on to some (even) more exciting things. Continue reading